Category Archives: Harlingen

TSTC Police Chief Celebrates 30 Years of Service

(HARLINGEN) – Police Chief Aurelio Torres’ career at Texas State Technical College spans over 30 years and was recently recognized at the college’s annual Employee Appreciation Day for his service.

Torres, whose law enforcement career started at TSTC, said this was always a field he wanted to pursue because of its nobility.

“Our highest call is to provide service to others,” he said. “I feel that with my career I’m doing something with a purpose.”

Torres earned his bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice – Police Administration from the University of Texas at Brownsville and graduated from the Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas Leadership Command College and moved up the ranks.

He arrived at TSTC in 1987 as a police officer and served in that position until 1995 when he became an investigator and field training officer. And finally in 2008 he was named the TSTC Chief of Police.

“The title of a job doesn’t matter, it makes no difference,” said Torres. “It’s about helping people and making a difference.”

TSTC Chief of Police Aurelio Torres

Helping and changing lives is what Torres says is his favorite part of the job, even if the task is as small as unlocking a car.

“When I was an officer I loved being out in the field and helping our students overcome challenges,” he said. “It was great getting to know them and becoming a mentor.”

Although he does not work with students as often as he would like anymore, he said it has been great taking his officers and sergeants under his wing and helping them become the best officers and employees they can be.

“I love coaching and mentoring my personnel,” said Torres. “It’s important to me that they understand their jobs and what they do and how it ties into the college’s mission. In turn, it helps us provide the best service possible.”

Torres ensures that his team is always well trained and prepared by encouraging developmental training, the way TSTC has always encouraged his professional growth.

Torres and his officers have all completed trainings such as Campus Orientated Police Training, Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response, Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events and sexual assault family violence investigator courses.  Most recently the chief and his sergeants completed the FBI’s Command Leadership Institute trilogy.

“Learning never stops and I’m thankful for the training that TSTC provides,” said Torres.

TSTC’s Vice Chancellor and Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel Ray Rushing, who is also Torres’ supervisor, has worked with the chief for more than 18 years and said that he is the epitome of a law enforcement professional.

“His knowledge, skill and leadership is best reflected in the awesome department he has assembled and trained,” said Rushing. “TSTC is lucky to have a man of such integrity and commitment on staff. His love for and dedication to TSTC is showcased daily in his actions.”

It is this dedication that has earned Torres other recognitions as well. He has been recognized by the FBI for his assistance in a child pornography case, by the Cameron County District Attorney’s Office as Law Enforcement Officer of the Year and by TSTC in 2011 as a Chancellor’s Excellence Award recipient.

Torres added that he never expected to be at TSTC for 30 years, but he is grateful that the college has allowed him to stay that long.

“TSTC has become my second family,” he said. “I look forward to continuing my commitment to the college and its community. TSTC offers so many opportunities to its students and employees and transforms lives. I want to continue being a part of that for as long as I can.”

Student Success Profile

(HARLINGEN) – Texas State Technical College student Edith Romero is pursuing an associate degree in Business Management Technology and is expected to graduate Fall 2018.

The San Benito native currently boasts a 3.2 grade-point average and is active on campus and within her community.

The 20-year-old is a work study with the Office of Student Life, secretary of the Veteran Students Alliance Club, a member of the TSTC Pool Sharks club and a volunteer with the Harlingen Recycling Center and the Humane Society of Harlingen.

What are your plans after high school?

Edith Romero

After I graduate from TSTC I hope to get hired at either the San Benito Parks and Recreation or the Harlingen Recycling Center as an event coordinator.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is to work in anything that has to do with recycling and spreading awareness on environmentalism. I’ve always had a love for it and I want to encourage others to help make our communities green. Hopefully one day I’ll also be able to start a recycling center in San Benito and invent environmental-friendly products.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

At TSTC, my greatest accomplishment so far has been being voted secretary for the Veterans Club. I’ve always been a shy person and TSTC has helped me break out of my shell. Another accomplishment I’m really proud of happened when I was in high school when I was selected to be the only national representative for a Health Occupations Students of America competition.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

I live by one quote, “Everything happens for a reason.” I was never interested in going to college, until some TSTC representatives came to talk to my high school class and showed me how important a college education is. I believe I was meant to hear their presentation because now TSTC has given me a brighter life and future.

Who at TSTC has had the greatest influence on your success?

Math lab assistant Vicky Lopez has had the greatest influence on my success. I came into college afraid of math. I’m not good at it. But Vicky was available every day to tutor me and help me. She was so welcoming and because of her and her great attitude I got an A in all of my math classes.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

I want students to remember that college is worth it. Keep trying no matter how hard it gets because it will change your life for the better.

 

TSTC Tool and Die Technology Changes Student’s Life

(HARLINGEN) – Tool and Die Technology at Texas State Technical College is giving students like Andy Juarez a new lease on life.

This is Juarez’s second try at a college education. He came to TSTC a few years back to pursue a degree in Surgical Technology, but had to leave when he needed to help his mother support their family.

“I had to drop out. I had to work,” said Juarez. “My mom needed help paying the bills and I felt like it was my responsibility and school took a back seat.”

Around the same time, Juarez’s younger brother graduated from Tool and Die Technology at TSTC and his success inspired him.

“My brother ended up moving to Dallas and finding a good-paying job,” he said. “He found financial security and I wanted that too. He is the one who pushed me to return to college and pursue Tool and Die.”

The Rio Hondo native now sees the finish line. He is expected to earn his associate degree Fall 2017 and after speaking to supervisors at Arlington-based United States defense contractor and industrial corporation, Raytheon, he has a position waiting for him immediately after he graduates.

“I’m so fortunate to have this opportunity available to me,” said Juarez. “If not for my brother’s support and that of my instructors, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Tool and Die Technology student Andy Juarez

The 25-year-old said Tool and Die Technology turned out to be more than he could have ever expected.

“We learn something new every day; it never ends,” he said. “The hands-on training is invaluable and the things we can create from nearly nothing is amazing.”

Students like Juarez who enroll in TSTC’s Tool and Die Technology are trained in the field from the bottom, up.

Instructors teach the basics starting with precision tools and measurements to blueprint reading. Lessons then range from learning how to use machines such as drill presses, lathes and computer numerical control (CNC) machines and how to maintenance them.

Tool and Die Technology instructor Rick Limas said this program is  great for a person who loves to work with their hands and mind and enjoy creating components from only a piece of metal.

“There is not one single product that does not go through the machining process,” he said. “Nothing can be produced without us. That’s why the demand for skilled machinists is so high.”

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the employment of machinists and tool and die makers is projected to grow six percent from 2014 to 2024, as fast as the average for all other occupations.

Limas seconds that by saying that across the country skilled machinists are in demand, in particular the South Texas region.

“Our region demands tool and die makers and machinists and at TSTC we work hard to satisfy that demand. Our program job placement rate is nearly 95 percent.”

Juarez and his peers can expect to find jobs in the molding and tool and die, aerospace, automotive and medical industries. They can find careers at local companies such as Fox Valley Molding and Trico Products to national companies such as Toyota, Rave Gears and Machining Company, Delta Centrifugal and Raytheon.

“It’s a great feeling being able to create precise components for planes, trains, automobiles and even prosthetics that can change someone’s life,” said Limas. “And I’m glad we’re teaching our students to do just that.”

As for Juarez he said he is ready for the big changes that will be happening in his life thanks to TSTC.

“I’m prepared, more than ready to begin my career because of TSTC,” he said. “TSTC has prepared me to conquer the machining world.”

For more information or to register for Tool and Die Technology visit tstc.edu.

Brothers Find Their Careers at TSTC

(HARLINGEN) -Brothers Robert and Wade Reynolds came to Texas State Technical College after feeling insecure about their futures at Texas A&M Kingsville.

“We saw our friends and classmates graduate with debt and unable to find jobs,” said Robert. “That scared us.”

Robert was majoring in music and Wade was majoring in history. Both had taken out school loans and were constantly worried about money.

“Money was tight,” said Robert. “We’re not a rich family. How to pay for college was always a discussion.”

That is why when both men decided to return home and pursue an associate degree in Wind Energy Technology, their father Grady Reynolds was ecstatic.

“I know this is a good career goal for my sons,” he said. “I don’t want them to worry about finances and work hard, laborious jobs like I did. I want them to have a nice life.”

It was the wind farm that was erected nearby their home in Bayview that first sparked the men’s interest in the wind energy field.

“We researched jobs and wages and there’s a lot of opportunity,” said Wade. “I saw that I could find security in a career.”

Reynolds Brothers

Both brothers are expected to graduate from the program in Spring 2018 and have big dreams for themselves and each other.

Robert said he has his eyes set on General Electric and already started looking up job duties and requirements on the company’s listings.

“I hope to be a lead technician someday, or oversee an entire site,” he said. “I have a lot to work toward and look forward to.”

In the near future, Robert hopes to earn a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering.

As for Wade, he said his main goal is to find a steady job that pays well, so he can make his dream of becoming a homeowner a reality.

“I’ve always wanted my own home and I know this career can help me get there,” said Wade. “I no longer feel insecure about my future. This is where I’m meant to be.”

Robert and Wade agree that as students in TSTC’s Wind Energy Technology they feel more prepared every day to enter the workforce. They added that the hands-on experience is what makes all of the difference.

Their instructor David Gomez describes the men as exceptional students who are a pleasure to teach.

“They come to school prepared, are very attentive and hard working,” said Gomez. “They both have a genuine interest in Wind Energy and that is the key for success. Both of these young men will have great success in the near future. I am certain of that.”

Both men said being at TSTC has made them better students because they do not have to worry or focus on money.

“I’ve become a better student, probably because my dad is around pushing me to get things done,” said Wade jokingly. “In all seriousness though, the stresses we had in Kingsville financially have lifted since coming to TSTC.”

Neither brother has needed to take out a loan this time around. Grants and scholarships are helping both get through TSTC debt free.

“I highly recommend TSTC to anyone looking to start a career or make a career move,” said Robert. “Not only because it’s affordable, but because the training here makes you more marketable and helps you start your life.”

Wind Energy Technology is offered at the TSTC Harlingen and Sweetwater campuses. For more information or to register for Fall 2017 call 956-364-4780 or visit tstc.edu.

TSTC Boasts a Unique Grow and Go Food Partnership

(HARLINGEN) – Recently, Texas State Technical College Culinary Arts students joined Agricultural Technology students at their on-campus greenhouse to harvest eggplants to be prepared and cooked by the up and coming chefs.

Using the latest technology to grow vegetables and fruits, instructors and students from both programs have partnered to give the students and the TSTC community the farm-to-table experience.

The idea for this joint venture came from TSTC’s Associate Vice President of Instructional Support Nicki Cone and Vice President of Instructional Support Hector Yanez.

“This project serves a variety of purposes,” said Cone. “The collaboration between two departments helps to educate the faculty concerning real-world applications. This expansion of knowledge will help to develop curriculum that better suits our industry, while giving our students a more well-rounded, innovative approach to their course work.”

Culinary Arts Instructor Emma Creps and Agricultural Technology Instructor Sammy Gavito both agree they were instantly excited with the idea of working together to give their students different perspectives ofTSTC Agricultural Technology and Culinary Arts the food business.

“We recognize that a growing trend in the food industry is farm to table,” said Gavito. “So it’s important that we prepare our students to face this in the workforce.”

With initial success, Gavito’s Horticulture class and instructor Norberto Mendoza’s Crop Science class will be expanding the project, growing new crops that will be used by Culinary Arts students.

Mendoza plans to use a traditional 30-acre field located on Loop 499 and Rio Hondo Rd. in Harlingen to grow corn, while Gavito’s class will use aeroponics, the process of growing plants in an air or mist environment without the use of soil using tower gardens, and aquaponics – an aquaculture system that uses the waste produced by farmed fish to supply nutrients to the plants.

The class will have access to eight tower gardens and one new aquaponics system to grow fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, melons, watermelons, peppers, eggplants and zucchinis.

All the farm fish from the aquaponics system will also be given to culinary to use.

“This is very exciting for me. This is exactly the type of business I want to get into when I graduate,” said Michelle Jacobson, TSTC Agricultural Technology student. “It’s great that I’m going to get this type of experience while still in school.”

Jacobson’s classmate, Irene Loya, added this experience is especially beneficial for her because she currently owns and is preparing five acres of land, with the help of the United States Department of Agriculture and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, for specialized crops.

“The connections in the classroom that I get to make to my real life are invaluable,” she said. “As students we all get to help each other learn and become better at what we do.”

Creps, while in the kitchen with her students as they cooked the eggplants they had harvested, said this project also brings a lot of benefits to her classroom and cooking labs.

“I personally wish this partnership had started sooner,” she said. “We’re always looking for new learning opportunities for our students and this gives them the chance to see the process and challenges of where our fruits and vegetables come from.”

TSTC Agricultural Technology and Culinary Arts

Crepes also added that it saves her department money and gives the TSTC community and visitors fresh food to enjoy when her students cook for banquets and special events.

“With this partnership we get only what we need when we need it,” said Crepes. “There’s no need to get extra to save trips to the grocery store and risking that it’ll go to waste, and there is no substituting the freshness you get with farm to table.”

Crepes’ student Diego Ramirez, who is graduating in August and has already signed a contract as a culinary teacher with La Feria High School, said he wishes the project had started sooner as well so he could enjoy it more.

“What I have done so far has been a great experience. I have learned so much,” said Ramirez. “I hope to carry what I have learned from this project into my classroom at the high school.”

Cone said the ultimate goal is to see an increase in student success and cultivate a higher level of critical thinking and problem solving skills. She added students will also see an increase in awareness of the world around them, in socialization, efficiency and productivity.

“We expect to see higher retention rates and greater student satisfaction,” she said. “The cross functional collaboration between these programs will create a culture of continuous improvement and innovation. We hope to begin partnerships similar to this between other programs on our campus. This is just the beginning.”

Culinary Arts is offered at TSTC’s Abilene, Waco, Williamson County and Harlingen campuses.

For more information or to register for Fall 2017 call 956-364-4755 or visit tstc.edu.

 

Student Success Profile – Yesenia Maldonado

(HARLINGEN) – After a long-time break from college, Harlingen native Yesenia Maldonado is now a student at Texas State Technical College pursuing her General Academic Core.

The 27-year-old single mom of four holds a 3.4 grade-point average while working part time at a farm and as a provider for her disabled mother. She is expected to complete her classes in Spring 2018.

Yesenia Maldonado

Maldonado said TSTC is her stepping stone into her dream career that was inspired by her son’s autism and ADHD diagnosis.

What are your plans after graduation?

After completing my classes at TSTC I plan on transferring to Texas State University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in communication science disorders and a master’s degree in speech language pathology.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is to become a speech therapist and help other kids the way my son was helped. My son didn’t speak for a very long time because of autism and ADHD and I saw how hard everyone worked to give him the gift of speech. This is my way of giving back.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

Personally, my greatest accomplishment was finishing my first semester of college and achieving A’s and B’s. I’m proud of myself. A lot of people told me I couldn’t do it with four kids and working. And even though it’s frightening and nerve wrecking, I am doing it for my kids and myself.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

I have learned that it is never too late for an education and I want my kids to learn that also with my example. I never felt school was in my reach, but with dedication and confidence in myself I have been able to pick myself up, no matter what life throws my way, and work toward making my dreams come true.

Who at TSTC has influenced your success the most?

There are so many, I feel like I can’t name them all, but the ones that stood out were my composition instructor Heather Stuart, social and behavioral science instructor Richard Kirk and my government instructor Elizabeth Bryant. They all have a great attitude toward our learning and understanding of the material and they are always willing to help and give advice.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

Don’t be intimidated by your instructors, they’re there to give you advice and motivation when you feel like giving up. Also, build a strong support system, whether it’s family or friends because I wouldn’t be where I am today without my mom and stepdad.

 

Student Success Profile

(HARLINGEN) – Texas State Technical College student Sergio Garcia is studying his General Academic Core. The Brownsville native currently boasts a 3.7 grade-point average and hopes to complete his courses by the end of summer.

The 32-year-old said he is ready to continue pursuing his career dreams after taking time off to take care of his mother as she battled a brain tumor.Sergio Garcia

“She lost her battle and I decided it was time to come back and help others like her fight,” he said.

What are your plans after graduation?

After completing my classes at TSTC I plan on transferring to the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley to pursue a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and a master’s degree in occupational therapy.

What’s your dream job?

My ultimate dream job is to help children and adults suffering with an illness, and with my career as an occupational therapist, I can do that.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

For me, my GPA is something to be proud of. I have taken at the most 17-18 credit hours and I’ve been able to maintain my grades. This is especially a huge achievement for me after being out of school for so long.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

The greatest lesson I have learned is to always help others, put them first and make them happy. My mom always instilled this in me growing up and I always followed it. I put my mom first when she was with us and now I make sure to put my wife first.

Who at TSTC has had the greatest influence on your success?

First there’s my government instructor Elizabeth Bryant. She reinvigorated my fire and desire to learn. Next, is my Anatomy and Physiology instructor Eduardo Saldivar, who has made learning fun and helped me steer my career decision.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?  

I want to advice students to take every single class seriously, no matter how easy they may think it is. Also, do your best and make the most of your college career and have no regrets.

TSTC Alum Owns Successful, Popular Local Restaurant

(HARLINGEN) – Frank Macias’ passion for cooking first started because of the Food Network making him hungry for success in the restaurant industry.

Now Frank Macias is the proud owner of Frankie Flav’z in Harlingen, a gourmet burger restaurant.

Though the journey was not easy, the Texas State Technical College alumnus’ restaurant has grown in popularity with burgers such as El Guapo, Sriracha Chicken Sandwich and El Chapa Burger, recipes of his own creation.

“I’ve always wanted to bring a different type of food scene to the Valley,” said Macias. “And I’m so blessed and glad toFrank Macias be doing what I’m doing.”

The Rio Hondo native graduated with an associate degree from TSTC’s Culinary Arts program in 2014 and said TSTC changed his life because, although he already worked in the restaurant industry, he had never worked in a kitchen.

“TSTC prepared me so well. It allowed me to sharpen my cooking skills, while learning the business aspect of the industry,” he said. “Because of TSTC I am now well-rounded in the food business.”

Before opening his restaurant earlier this year, Macias owned a gourmet burger food truck. It was through this first business venture that he built a strong following.

For two years, Macias’ food truck served Harlingen and surrounding communities serving up their most popular burgers such as the Cubano, consisting of braised pork cooked in a marinade placed in a buttered Bolillo bun and topped with ham, pickles, Swiss cheese and a touch of mustard.

“People doubted that my food truck could do well in the Valley, but it caught on and here we are now with a restaurant. Truly a dream come true,” said Macias.

The restaurant has not even been opened more than a month and Macias said response has been great.

“I was nervous about the transition from the food truck to a restaurant but I’m truly enjoying the experience,” he said. “Being able to see the joy my food brings to people is the most rewarding and exciting thing.”

The 41-year-old’s Yelp restaurant reviews prove Macias’ gourmet burgers are being enjoyed.

One comment read, “If you’re looking for a delicious gourmet burger prepared with just the right combination of flavors to satisfy even the pickiest of eater…look no further than Frankie Flav’z.”

Macias said however, it’s not only the food that keeps people coming back, but the service. He hires TSTC alumni. Some he went to school with and others he met later, but he never doubts their skill.

“TSTC has such a great culinary arts program,” he said. “I’m never worried about my employees’ work ethic or skills.”

So what does Macias’ future look like?

He will be reviving the Frankie Flav’z food truck for special catering events such as festivals, corporate meetings and weddings and quincenerias.

“We already cater, but I want to keep my truck. It’s my baby. It’s where it all began,” said Macias.El Luchador

Macias is also currently competing to win the Blended Burger Project for his chance to cook at the historic James Beard House in New York City’s Greenwich Village. He has entered his burger El Luchador, which folks can vote for daily on the restaurant’s Facebook page through the end of July online.

Beard was a champion of American cuisine, cookbook author, teacher and television personality.

“Only the best of the best have ever cooked there,” said Macias. “Being able to cook at the historic James Beard House would be an honor.”

For more information on TSTC’s Culinary Arts program or to register for fall classes, go online at tstc.edu.

 

TSTC Brings Home Multiple National SkillsUSA Medals

(HARLINGEN) – It was a big win for Texas State Technical College at the National SkillsUSA Leadership Conference in Kentucky.

Just last week five Rio Grande Valley TSTC students earned gold medals in Robotics Urban Search and Rescue and bronze medals in Community Service, a first-time event for TSTC.

SkillsUSA is a professional organization teaching technical, academic and employability skills that help high school and college students pursue successful technical careers. Members build these skills through student-led team meetings, contests, leadership conferences and other activities.

TSTC SkillsUSA national winnersStudents in SkillsUSA participate in hands-on competitions in various fields such as science, technology, engineering, mathematics, carpentry and culinary arts.

The students who earned the gold medal in Robotics Urban Search and Rescue are Michael Arreola, a TSTC Mechatronics Technology student, and Rick Santos, a recent Mechatronics Technology and Tool and Die Technology graduate.

Santos, who earned his place at the national competition while still a student, said he and Arreola began preparing for this competition since the end of last year’s SkillsUSA national competition.

“It takes nearly a full year to build our robot and prepare it just right for competition,” said Santos.

Winning the gold medal means that this team of two excelled in their written test, presentation, engineering notebook submission and execution of their robot.

Both men agree they were expecting to win second or third place, and when they were not called for either, they were positive they had not placed at all.

“It was definitely a good feeling hearing we had received the gold medal,” said Arreola. “It was an awesome experience being there, winning and hearing the crowd cheer for us.”

The TSTC Community Service team and bronze medal winners are Alexandra Lugo, a Mathematics and Business Management Technology major; Jacqueline Cruz, Agricultural Technology graduate and academic core student; and Yajaira Gonzalez, Biology major.

These women represented the TSTC’s Building Construction Technology community service project with Habitat for Humanity. Throughout the year the building construction students volunteer with habitat and use their skills to build homes for low-income families.

“It was great to show how our students use their technical skills to benefit our community,” said Lugo.

The women worked long hours after their classes and jobs to complete the community service binder they were going to submit and prepare for the presentation in front of a panel of judges.

TSTC SkillsUSA national winners

“It was definitely a challenge, but we were in it to win it,” Lugo added. “When we found out we won, we were about ready to cry. I’m very proud of all us.”

Eldwin Leija, TSTC Automated Manufacturing Technology instructor and Larissa Moreno, TSTC recruitment coordinator, said they are very proud of their students’ recent achievements at SkillsUSA.

“TSTC Mechatronics is proud of what Rick and Michael have accomplished. We’re not only proud of their first place win, but of all they have achieved,” said Leija. “We expect nothing but the best from our students because we know they have it in them to be the best in all they do.”

“I’m so proud of my girls. They worked really hard and truly deserve this recognition,” said Moreno. “Our goal was to go out there and represent TSTC, Habitat for Humanity and the RGV well, and we ended up bringing home the first medal for TSTC in our category.”

In all, TSTC campuses statewide won seven medals at nationals, three gold, one silver and three bronze.

TSTC Receives $5,000 from ULA

TSTC, ULA check presentation(HARLINGEN) – Texas State Technical College recently received $5,000, the latest installment, from United Launch Alliance for student scholarships. This money will be used to help students pursuing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields of study with tuition, books, room and board and other expenses. TSTC and ULA have an ongoing partnership with the space agency hiring TSTC grads.